We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Hideous..” 1 of 5 stars
Review of National Sea Life Centre

National Sea Life Centre
The Waters Edge | Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2HL, England
44-121-633-4700
Improve this listing
Ranked #46 of 161 Attractions in Birmingham
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Dive and be wowed by the many strange, beautiful and fascinating creatures of the deep as you journey through the amazing underwater world of SEA LIFE Brimingham. Prepare for astonishing close views of everything from humble starfish to tropical sharks. To get any closer you'll have to get wet!
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
UK
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
23 attraction reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
117 helpful votes 117 helpful votes
“Hideous..”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed November 1, 2013

I can only assume that the people who enjoyed it must not have gone to "The Deep" in Hull, as the two are worlds appart.

Lets forgo the fact that we had to queue for 45 minutes, and it was full of LARK's (Loud Annoying Rude Kids), whose parents felt it acceptable to let their children steamroller their way past you - I got kicked twice and punched several times & not one parent apologised. This of course isnt the Sea Life Centre's fault, I just mention it to warn non-POLARKS (Parents Of Loud Annoying Rude Kids).

So why did I hate it so much - to put it bluntly it was a rip off. I was fortunate that I had a 2 for 1 voucher, but even then I felt cheated. First off, you cant really stay as long as you want - and by this I mean it's pretty much a one way system, so you are herded along and once you get to the end, thats it - you cant go back round. If I paid full price it would have been about £40 for two people - dear lord, £40!?!

The tanks themselves were mostly very very darkly lit. Now having kept salt water fish for a long long time I found this surprising & disappointing. It was sometimes hard to see what was in it, and trying to take any type of photo - well I had the ISO up to 64000 with an aperture of F2.8 / shutter speed of 100 (which really wasn't fast enough to be honest), and it the photos were still very dark and in the end useless.

The fish they did have there were quite uninspiring - they did have an octopus, but we didnt see it as it was hidden away in a helmet. The hammerheads were of course great to see, but the only viewing was either through the acrylic walkway, which significantly distorts what you see - or there is a section at the end, but again it's bowed. There didnt seem to be a really big flat glass viewing area to watch them, which was a shame & as I say, very very disappointing.

When I reviewed what we actually saw - taking aside the sharks and bigger fish, some of the aquarium shops i've been too have had better and more interesting fish, and certainly in better lit and cleaner tanks.

This is a little tip for those who are visiting, go the loo before you get in there. The first toilets, at least so we were told, were about half way round the centre. Also dont expect much in the way of refreshments - we saw a couple of vending machines, but I dont even know if they have a cafe, we certainly didn't see one. Also they dont have their own car park, so you will have to fork out money for the multi-storey, which at the time of writing was about £3.30 for 3 hours or £6.80 for 6 (we paid the latter which was on the basis we'd be there for a while - mmmmmm......)

All in all I've been to a lot of zoos, parks, wildlife attractions all over the world, I'd guess you'd say it's my "thing", and this was one of the worst days out - no wait I cant say days as we were only there three hours - this was one of the worst 3 hours out I've spent in a long long time.

I guess if you dont know any different and have a Merlin pass, then you'll probably think it's ok, but sadly for me it was just awful.

Visited November 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SLC_Birmingham, Public Relations Manager at National Sea Life Centre, responded to this review, November 4, 2013
Thanks for taking the time to review our attraction; guest feedback is very important to us.

We’re very sorry that your visit didn’t live up to your expectations. We are a popular attraction and we do get busy. We advise that guests visit in off peak periods to make the most of the attraction, and in order to avoid queues and other guests if desired. We do recommend that you book online for the greatest savings, where tickets are from £10 (and this also gives you priority entry). We feel that this is a competitive and reasonable price for the quantity of creatures that you are able to view. We are the only aquarium in the UK to have Hammerhead sharks, our baby Roti Island snake neck turtles are extremely rare, and we do have over 1000 species of fish. Our tanks are lit by LED lights, and are at a level which is suitable for the fish, which as I’m sure you’ll understand is our main priority.

We recommend to guests that it takes 1-2 hours to go around the centre, and have no limits regarding the amount of times you can go around the centre. Yes it is a one way system, but you are welcome to go around as many times as you like and you may choose the speed you wish to move around the centre. The first set of toilets are on arrival, then there is a second set halfway round. We do advertise that we don’t have a café, but guests are welcome to get their handstamped, exit and re-enter so that they can make the most of many restaurants and eating outlets in Brindleyplace. Nor do we have a car park, however our location means that we are easily accessible to guests whatever means of transport you choose.

Again, we are very sorry you didn’t enjoy your visit, and I hope this response explains why certain elements are the way they are.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

925 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    214
    340
    238
    86
    47
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Polish first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Telford, United Kingdom
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“An enjoyable visit”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 29, 2013

We visited here during the week, off peak. The queue to get in was only a two minute wait. The aquariums are really well kept and the fish, turtles, sharks etc seemed very well looked after. The underground part was really special. Being able to see the sharks , turtles etc swimming overhead was lovely. There are activities to do as you make your way around. There is a 4D cinema which was fun and a mirror maze.
Please be aware to take a packed lunch with you if you wish to stay here for a while, as there are only vending machines for snacks (crisps and chocolate) and hot and cold drinks. There are benches and seats to sit on throughout the centre.
There is a small gift shop.

Visited October 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SLC_Birmingham, Public Relations Manager at National Sea Life Centre, responded to this review, November 8, 2013
We’re so pleased to hear you enjoyed your visit, thankyou for writing us a review. You’re quite right we don’t have a café, but you’re welcome at any point to get a handstamp and exit and re-enter, so that you can make the most of all the restaurants and eateries that Brindleyplace has to offer. We look forward to welcoming you back sometime in the future.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Eccleshall, England, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
28 attraction reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“Sea Life Centre.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 26, 2013

Good day out with plenty to see and do. Every sort of fish and sea creature you could imagine. Walk under the tube and see a massive Turtle swim above you. One word of warning,try and avoid when children are on holiday. Large queues to see anything,but apart from that a good day out.

Visited April 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SLC_Birmingham, Public Relations Manager at National Sea Life Centre, responded to this review, October 29, 2013
Hi there, we’re so pleased to hear that you had a jelly good day out. We are a popular attraction and advise that it will be busy in the school holidays. We do suggest that guests try to visit earlier on (as soon as we open at 10am) or after 3pm to beat the queues. Thanks for taking the time to write us a review; we really appreciate your feedback.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stamford, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
15 attraction reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
“Thanks for a great visit”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 24, 2013

Thanks to those critics, as we had the perfect day with no queues. Kid's 3, 11, 12yrs loved it, especially the cinema. H.

Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SLC_Birmingham, Public Relations Manager at National Sea Life Centre, responded to this review, October 29, 2013
Hello, thanks for reviewing – we’re really glad to hear that you enjoyed your visit! We hope to see you again soon! Perhaps check out the Polar Express film showing which will be showing in our cinema in December?
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wolverhampton, United Kingdom
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
“Everyone should visit at least once!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 21, 2013

This is well worth a visit! So far I've been in twice with friends. The price is a little expensive (but if you buy online you save some money) - plus you get to skip the queue as you already have your ticket! I would say GO OFF PEAK otherwise you will have lots of children in the way - which is to be expected as it's aimed at families with children. The day was amazing and they have crammed in so many amazing animals and exhibits into such a small area. I cannot wait to go again!

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SLC_Birmingham, Public Relations Manager at National Sea Life Centre, responded to this review, October 24, 2013
Hello, we’re really pleased to hear that you had a fin-tastic visit! Thankyou for writing us a review - we hope to see you again soon!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed National Sea Life Centre also viewed

 
Birmingham, West Midlands
Birmingham, West Midlands
 

Been to National Sea Life Centre? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage National Sea Life Centre, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.